Name of the film : Swale
Main Cast: Dileep,Gopika
Script: Kalavoor Ravikumar
Producer: Madhu Warrier and P.Sukumar
Director: P. Sukumar
Review by : Unni / Kerala9.com
It’s good to see that P.Sukumar, who has for long been associated with films, first as an actor and then as a leading cinematographer and who is the younger brother of two directors (P.Gopikumar and P.Chandrakumar) makes his directorial debut with a film that’s not trash. In fact, for those who are looking for a feel good movie that tells of our land and our lives and things that concern our lives, ‘Swa Le’ should not come as a disappointment.
‘Swa Le’, as the name itself suggests is the story of a newspaper reporter (‘Swa Le’ is the short for ‘Swantham Lekhakan’, meaning ‘Staff Correspondent’) and is set at a time when there was no mobile phone and other modern technologies. Unni Madhavan (Dileep) works as the staff correspondent to a newspaper named ‘Janachintha’. He works hard day and night and in fact gets a meagre salary and finds it really hard to make both ends meet. He is not even able to take care of his wife, Vimala (Gopika), who is pregnant. His news editor Kaimal (Innocent) behaves rather harshly to him at times and doesn’t give him peace for even a single hour, always sending him on assignments, one after the other. In the meantime, an eminent writer Palazhi Sivasankara Pillai (Nedumudi Venu), who is a Jnanpith recipient and one of the doyens of Malayalam literature, is reported to be critically ill and expected to die any time. Unni Madhavan is sent to report the developments from the writer’s house and he spends most of his time there, with many other journalists, all of them waiting for the writer to breathe his last. Anyway, for Unni Madhavan, it’s different. He prays for the writer’s long life as he has been close to him even as a child and it was Palazhi Sivasankara Pillai who had taught him to love letters. At the same time, Unni Madhavan is torn between his duty as a journalist and his anxiety for his wife, who is all alone at their small rented house and that too by a river, a house where one can reach only by crossing a river. It’s from this point that the story develops.
On the one hand ‘Swa Le’ presents before us the story of a young, struggling journalist and his hapless wife. At the same time, on the other hand, with some strokes of satire, it also etches the apathy shown by the media to the sorrows and sufferings of the mass of humanity surrounding them. The way people tend to commercialise the imminent death of an eminent writer too is presented in a rather satirical manner. The way the film ends, portraying the protagonist too eventually turning part of the mad race after news, is good, though it may not impress average viewers much and could definitely have been handled better.
‘Swa Le’ is a welcome change from the many meaningless movies that are churned out by many other directors and should also be appreciated for having in it things that reflect our lives and our social set-up. It’s rooted in our soil and is a real ‘Malayalam film’, in essence. Hats off to P.Sukumar and crew for coming up with a good film, which may not appeal to the average viewers of today who are after star oriented films rather than subject-oriented ones. It may also not appeal much to erudite critics who may prefer a more intellectual kind of treatment for the subject. But it cannot be denied that ‘Swa Le’ is a good movie that conveys many things and is good for being viewed with the family.
Dileep does full justice to his role, that of Unni Madhavan. He plays the role in his characteristic style, but there is of course not much of the usual Dileep brand of comedy that his fans may be looking forward for. It’s good to see Gopika back in the role of Vimala, Unni Madhavan’s wife. She is the very same person whom we had seen in ‘Veruthe Oru Bharya’ and fits into the role perfectly well. Nedumudi Venu, Innocent, Ganesh Kumar, Ashokan, Jagathy Sreekumar, Salim Kumar etc do justice to their respective roles. Harisri Ashokan provides some lighter moments by way of his usual brand of comedy.
There is nothing outstanding to mention about the technical aspects, though cinematography (by director P.Sukumar himself), art-direction (by M.Bawa) and editing (by V.Saajan) have all been handled in a very good manner as is demanded by the subject.
Background score jells well with the mood of the film while the songs, one of them a piece of poetry rendered by Nedumudi Venu, have come out well and have been filmed well too.
Kalavoor Ravikumar, who has scripted movies like ‘Ishtam’, ‘Nammal’, ‘Manjupoloru Penkutty’ and who has directed ‘Oridathoru Puzhayundu’, does a rather good work of the script, banking obviously on his experiences as a journalist, especially the struggling phase in his early journalistic career. He has tried his hand at some brilliant bits of satire too, like the scene in which the doctor examining Palazhi Sivasankara Pillai states that there is nothing to worry and the scribes get disappointed or the one in which Dasappan (Harisri Ashokan) lashes out against journalists. The scene in which Unni Madhavan asks news editor Kaimal, “Aren’t you a human being?”, to which Kaimal answers, “No, I am a journalist” too is good. The scene in which photographer Chandramohanan (Salim Kumar) makes fun of the necessity of an exclusive crime story or rape story in the paper too is interesting. ‘Swa Le’ also tells us the story of a whole generation of journalists who had fought all odds and worked amidst all kinds of hassles and inconveniences and kept things going and who never got to enjoy the luxuries that many journalists of today are enjoying. Kalavoor Ravikumar needs to be appreciated for having done a good work, remaining within the parameters of commercial cinema.
P.Sukumar is in full control of things and does a neat work of the direction. He deserves appreciation for having chosen such a subject for his debut film rather than go for some flashy, meaningless stuff.
Overall verdict- Feel good movie, got things to convey.